The Catholic Christianity has slowly emerged from the original paulinist movement which was first established in Syrian Antioch where the followers of Paul were first named Christians. It is the opinion and conviction of virtually all independent and critical biblical scholars that Paul was the first Christian and that it was he who in a real sense actually founded Christianity as an independent and a new religion from Judaism.
Overwhelming majority of independent scholars and religious historians recognise the fact that Paul was a self proclaimed Apostle who radically altered the original gospel Jesus taught. These scholars - many of whom are experts in their fields - actually credit Paul with the founding of Christianity as we know it today. Please note the following comment taken from Man, Myth and Magic - The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and Unknown, Art. St. Paul - the Pilot of Christianity: "
During the past century St. Paul has been transformed from the most important apostle to the most controversial figure of Primitive Christianity. There is a certain irony in this situation; for Paul, despite his high reputation in the Church, was originally a controversial figure and his authority as an apostle was seriously questioned by other Christians of the time. It is the paradox of this original uncertainty about Paul's status and his subsequent great renown that has caused scholars to look critically at the traditional view of the beginnings of the Christian religion...However, it must be remembered that when Paul wrote, some 20 years only had passed since the crucifixion of Jesus, and as yet there was no Christian theology. Paul was, in fact, unconsciously laying the foundation upon which the theologians of the Church were later to build the great doctrines of the faith. The other source is the Acts of the Apostles, which was written towards the end of the 1st century AD.
It seeks to show how Christianity, guided by the Spirit, started from the small community of original disciples resident in Jerusalem, and spread throughout the Roman Empire until it was preached by Paul in Rome itself. The author of Acts was concerned to idealize the past, and he ignores or is evasive about the conflicts in which Paul was involved. His picture of the progress of Christianity has two phases: the first and shorter is the initial Jerusalem phase, of which St. Peter is the leading figure; the scene of the second lies outside Palestine and has Paul as its hero. On a number of points the account of Paul in Acts differs from the evidence of Paul's own writings, of which it makes no apparent use. The most serious difference concerns Paul's initial contacts with Christianity. According to Acts, Paul took a leading part in the persecution of the Christians of Judaea and Samaria following the martyrdom of Stephen [8:1-3]. Not content with venting his animosity against these members of the new movement, he obtained authority from the high priest to arrest Jewish Christians living in Damascus. But on the road to the Syrian city he experienced a devastating vision of Jesus which left him blind. Brought to Damascus, his sight was restored by a Christian named Ananias, and he embraced the Christian faith and was baptized. Returning to Jerusalem he was accepted, after some hesitation, by the Christians there and boldly preached the faith that he had previously persecuted.
When the Jews tried to kill him, the Jerusalem Christians sent him to Tarsus in Cilicia, which was his native city - Paul was in fact a Jew of the Diaspora whose first language was Greek. In his epistle to the Christians of Galatia, Paul gives a very different account of his conversion. The context in which he gave it is highly significant. He was writing with great urgency and concern to those in Galatia whom he had converted to Christianity, because he had learned that they were being won over to a different form of Christianity - Paul calls it "a different gospel" - which was contrary to the one he had preached to them. Since this other "gospel" constituted a challenge to the authenticity of his own "gospel", Paul felt obliged to explain the source of his, in order to vindicate its authority. He asserts that his gospel or version of Christianity had no human source: "For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ" [Gal. 1:12]. This assertion leads Paul to explain how he had been converted and entrusted with his mission - and in doing so he emphasizes, significantly, his absolute independence of the original apostles at Jerusalem: "For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it; and I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.
But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. [In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!] Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still not known by sight to the churches of Christ in Judaea; they only heard it said, "He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy" [1:13-23]. This account of Paul's conversion contradicts that of Acts, and Paul's own statement must naturally be preferred. However, the true importance of the passage resides in Paul's interpretation of his conversion. For he declares that it was due to the direct intervention of God, for the specific purpose of revealing "his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles".
A little further on in the same epistle [2:7-8], Paul makes a similar claim, but this time with reference to the teaching of another Christian leader. He asserts that he "had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised" while "Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised". These two passages show that Paul recognized that his version of Christianity was different from that of Jesus' leading disciple peter. This difference lay in the fact that his version was designed for non-Jews, whereas Peter's was for the Jews. The implication of this distinction is very great. For Peter's gospel was obviously the original version of the Christian faith, yet it was regarded by Paul as not being suitable for Gentiles. His own gospel, which he admits was later and wholly independent of "those who were apostles before me", he claims, by way of contrast, to be of divine origin and specifically intended for Gentiles. In other words, Paul reveals in this letter that already, within two decades of the Crucifixion, two interpretations of Jesus were current in the Church. The first was associated with Peter, and was doubtless based upon that disciple's memories of Jesus and his teaching. The other derived from Paul's own spiritual experience, which he believed constituted a personal revelation to him by God. The fact that Paul claims that his gospel was designed for the gentiles must mean that it presented Jesus in such a way as would be appreciated by those educated in the ideas and modes of thought current in Graeco-Roman society."
The canonical gospels explicitly mention that Jesus personally called and then appointed the Twelve to be his Apostles and Representatives among all nations. Paul on the other hand never even met Jesus. He claimed his apostleship on the basis of a vision he claimed to have had. The early true believers - called by their derogatory name Ebionites - dismissed Paul’s claim and they believed that it was not Jesus who appeared to Paul but that he rather had a demoniacal hallucination. Please note what the Jewish Encyclopedia, Art. Jewish Christian Sects, on p. 39, says:
“The Jewish Christian opposition to Paul, traditionally ascribed to Peter, was not based only on his use of magic to make impression on the Romans and his denial of the Mosaic laws, but also on his derivation of his apostolic mission from a spurious vision, whereas the true apostles were sent by Jesus himself.”
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Art. Ebionites, corroborates the fact that in the early days Paul was regarded as an illegitimate Apostle and an apostate:
“The Ebionites violently opposed the theology of St. Paul because they believed that he had undergone a demoniacal hallucination when he claimed to have had a vision of Christ, and that he had opposed the conversion of the Jews to a perfect observance of the Mosaic Law as intended by St. James in Jerusalem.”
Here is clearly acknowledged that Paul and James had different attitude towards the Mosaic Law. It is also plainly stated that the Ebionites - that is, all those who were under the jurisdiction of James and the Twelve - vigorously opposed the Apostleship of Paul, claiming that it was not Jesus who actually appeared to Paul but that he had experienced a demoniacal hallucination. Dr. Hugh Schonfield, in his great book Those Incredible Christians writes:
“For the Apostolic Church much that Paul taught was grievous error not at all in accord with the mind and message of the Messiah. The original Apostles could urge that the truth was known by them. But Paul had never companied with Jesus or heard what he said day after day, and Paul’s visions were the delusions of his own misguided mind…It was not only the teaching and activities of Paul which made him obnoxious to the Christian leaders: but their awareness that he set his revelations above their authority and claimed an intimacy with the mind of Jesus, greater than of those who had companied with him on earth and had been chosen by him…It was an abomination, especially as his ideas were so contrary to what they knew of Jesus, that he should pose as the embodiment of the Messiah’s will…Paul was seen as the demon-driven enemy of the Messiah…For the legitimate Church, Paul was a dangerous and disruptive influence, bent on enlisting a large following among the Gentiles in order to provide himself with a numerical superiority with the support of which he could set at defiance the elders at Jerusalem. Paul had been the enemy from the beginning, and because he failed in his former open hostility he had craftily insinuated himself into the fold to destroy it from within.”
When we read Paul’s epistles it immediately becomes apparent that there was a great schism between Paul and the Twelve - who were led by James, the brother of Jesus. They sent emissaries among Paul’s followers to inform them that Paul was not a legitimate Apostle and that his gospel was a perverted version of Jesus’s teachings. Man, Myth and Magic - The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and the Unknown, Articles Jesus and St Paul - the Pilot of Christianity explains:
“A Jew by birth, Paul’s first language was Greek, and he believed himself divinely chosen to preach Christ to the Gentiles: in so doing, he produced a version of Christianity which shocked the Jewish Christians of Jerusalem…As soon as the Jewish Christians realized the nature of Paul’s gospel, they repudiated both it and him. They sent emissaries among Paul’s converts, warning them that Paul was not an apostle and that his teaching was not the original form of the faith.” The Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol. 3, on p. 349, says: “Paul was also responsible for the transformation of Christianity from a Jewish sect to a Gentile movement by the end of the first century of the common era. The importance of this change for Christian history is impossible to exaggerate.”
The eminent theologian Ferdinand Christian Baur, in his book Church History of the First Three Centuries says of Paul:
“What kind of authority can there be for an ‘apostle’ who, unlike the other apostles, had never been prepared for the apostolic office in Jesus’ own school but had only later dared to claim the apostolic office on the basis of his own authority? The only question comes to be how the apostle Paul appears in his Epistles to be so indifferent to the historical facts of the life of Jesus…He bears himself but little like a disciple who has received the doctrines and the principles which he preaches from the Master whose name he bears.”
George Bernard Shaw, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925, in his book Androcles and the Lion writes:
“There is not one word of Pauline Christianity in the characteristic utterances of Jesus…There has really never been a more monstrous imposition perpetrated than the imposition of Paul’s soul upon the soul of Jesus…It is now easy to understand how the Christianity of Jesus…was suppressed by the police and the Church, while Paulinism overran the whole western civilized world, which was at that time the Roman Empire, and was adopted by it as its official faith.”
Jesus never envisaged a large following - let alone the following of the whole Roman Empire. Jesus spoke of the “little flock” and that there are only “few” who walk on the “narrow” way. It was Paul who widened the road and who offered the Gentiles FREE SALVATION with no strings attached. Paul told the mainstream of the Romano-Graeco world that they can retain their wealth and possessions, their slaves and that they could continue in their polygamous relationships. The Church Fathers and especially the Bishops and later the Popes of the Roman Catholic Church even further widened the road and made a pact with the Holy Roman emperors. The Pauline Church flourished while the Essene/Nazorean/Ebionite believers were rejected and condemned as heretics. Slowly but surely they were obliterated from history by the emerging Catholic Church which, in principal, was based on the teachings of their St. Paul. The Christianity of today is largely built and organised not on the teachings and principles of Jesus and the Twelve but rather on those of Paul. Paul, therefore, is the true founder of today’s Christianity.Holger Kersten, a German writer, says:
"What is called Christianity today is largely a teaching or precepts artificially created by Paul, and should be more correctly called Paulinism.”
Religious historian Wilhelm Nestle says:
“Christianity is the religion founded by Paul; it replaced Christ’s Gospel with a Gospel about Christ” [Krisis des Christentums, p. 89].
Theologian Grimm made an honest confession when he said the following of the Paulinist Christianity:
“However deeply these teachings may have become ingrained in Christian thought, they still have nothing to do with the real Jesus” [Die Ethik Jesus].
The great theologian Soren Kierkegaard realised just how influential Paul was in transforming the original Essene-Nazorean-Ebionite movement into Paulinist Christianity:
“In the teachings of Christ, religion is completely present tense: Jesus is the prototype and our task is to imitate him, become a disciple. But then through Paul came a basic alteration. Paul draws attention away from imitating Christ and fixes attention on the death of Christ The Atoner. What Martin Luther, in his reformation, failed to realize is that even before Catholicism, Christianity had become degenerate at the hands of Paul. Paul made Christianity the religion of Paul, not of Christ. Paul threw the Christianity of Christ away, completely turning it upside down, making it just the opposite of the original proclamation of Christ.”
Rev. V.A. Holmes-Gore makes the following statement:
“Let the reader contrast the true Christian standard with that of Paul and he will see the terrible betrayal of all that the Master taught…For the surest way to betray a great Teacher is to misrepresent his message…That is what Paul and his followers did, and because the Church has followed Paul in his error it has failed lamentably to redeem the world…The teachings given by the blessed Master Christ, which the disciples John and Peter and James, the brother of the Master, tried in vain to defend and preserve intact were as utterly opposed to the Pauline Gospel as the light is opposed to the darkness” [Christ or Paul?].
The famous theologian Helmut Koester writes:
“Paul himself stands in the twilight zone of heresy. In reading Paul, one immediately encounters a major difficulty. Whatever Jesus had preached did not become the content of the missionary proclamation of Paul…Sayings of Jesus do not play a role in Paul’s understanding of the events of salvation…Paul did not care at all what Jesus had said…Had Paul been completely successful very little of the sayings of Jesus would have survived” [The Theological Aspects of Primitive Christian Heresy.”
Karen Armstrong writes:
“When I turn back to study the life and teachings of Jesus it seems that Paul has not only been an important influence on Christianity, but that in a very real sense he was its founder. He could be called the first Christian.”
In a textbook, The Holy Land in the Times of Jesus on p. 92, we are told:
“Paul himself actually deserves the title of the first Christian. For it was he who really made the break between the followers of Jesus and the Jews who remained faithful to their religion. The original Disciples of Jesus, and Jesus himself, considered themselves to be Jews, and they expected all of their followers to adhere to the Jewish law.”
A Christian writer, David Wenham writes:
“It is commonly assumed that from this point on [Damascus conversion] Paul’s relationship to Jesus was that of a faithful follower. As a self confessed “slave” of Jesus - and like other Christian converts through the ages - he was very interested in the life and teaching of his master. He held Jesus in the highest regard and tried to base his own life and teaching on what he knew of Jesus. So it is supposed. However, that assumption about Paul had not gone unchallenged. Indeed, in recent years a quite different view has become influential. Far from meekly following Jesus, it is suggested that Paul was an innovator who brought into Christianity all sorts of ideas and emphases that complicated and spoiled the original, simple religion of Jesus” [Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity? Pp. 1-2].
Walter Bauer, another eminent theologian, in his book Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity says: “
If one may be allowed to speak rather pointedly, the Apostle Paul was the only Arch-Heretic known to the apostolic age.”
The Catholic Professor and historian, John C. Dwyer, in his book Church History: Twenty Centuries of Catholic Christianity, on pp. 27-28, writes:
“Paul’s importance for the early church is paralleled by his place in the New Testament: more in the New Testament is by or about Paul than is the case for anyone except Jesus himself. Paul began as an outsider who had persecuted the early Christians, but he brought about a radical reinterpretation of Christianity, as it was understood by the official leadership of his day. In a church which was, at least in appearance, a Jewish sect, he preached a radical liberation from the Temple and Synagogue. This brought him into open conflict with the authorities of the Christian community…Paul’s role in the early church raises some serious questions. Paul has been called the second founder of Christianity, and it is not at all inappropriate to ask whether he remained true to the message of the first founder - Jesus - or whether he relativized the importance of Jesus and twisted the meaning of his message. Paul encountered embittered opposition in his own day, and in modern times the question has frequently been raised of whether Paul distorted the simple message of Jesus - the message of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man - and warped it into the theory of the atonement of an angry and vengeful God by means of a bloody sacrifice. Paul has been accused of exaggerating man’s guilt and despair beyond all bounds and stripping the human being of self-respect. His references to purity, sexual sins, and his contrast of flesh and spirit, have led some theologians to find in him the source of that perverse hostility to the body which charaterizes so much of what Augustine and the fathers of the eastern church wrote: All of these accusations have at least some foundation, and they force us to raise the question of whether Paul was a clever, if unbalanced, innovator, or, on the other hand, the privileged interpreter of Jesus.”
Traditional Christian scholars believe that Paul was the PRIVILEGED INTERPRETER of Jesus and that he was revealed mysteries and secrets of which all other Apostles could only take a glimpse. But why would Jesus put Paul ahead of all his disciples whom he had personally chosen and appointed as Apostles? Why would he put Paul ahead of James, Peter and John when these three were his favourites? Paul never even met Jesus. He never heard Jesus teach or see him perform any of his mighty miracles. Yet traditional Christians take for granted that Paul was the chief of the Apostles to whom even Peter allegedly paid homage. But how could Paul be the chief interpreter and the favourite of Jesus, when he actually taught doctrines and entertained ideas which Jesus actually abhorred? Paul transformed the Essene-Nazorean-Ebionite religion into Christianity which later became known as the Roman Catholic Church. Gene Savoy, in his The Essaei Document says:
“Paul’s Christianity is another matter. He taught a different kind of theology than that shared by the original disciples, who were schooled under Jesus…Moreover, James, Peter and the disciples were members of the Essaei [Essene] community, which Paul most assuredly was not…It should be remembered that Paul persecuted the Essaei. He was armed with commissions and authority of the chief priests and took great pains to imprison as many as he could find…The theology that Paul created is not the religion of the Essaei…Rome assumed control over it when the Roman emperor embraced Pauline Christianity…Palestinian Christianity was displaced by Roman Christianity. The teachings of Jesus the Messiah were overshadowed by the teachings of Paul.”
Rev. V.A. Holmes-Gore, in his book Christ or Paul writes:
“The triumph of Paul’s Gospel is all the more remarkable in view of the Master’s repeated warnings that false teachers would arise immediately after his ‘going away.’ Thus we read in Matthew: ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits ye shall know them…even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit…Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom, of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.’ This warning fits Paul, who taught that entry into the kingdom of Heaven depends upon faith, i.e. by calling Jesus “Lord, Lord,” and did not teach the pure way of life by which alone man can enter the kingdom. And if we apply to Paul the test “by their fruits ye shall know them’ it is abundantly clear that he was a false prophet. We have seen that it was he who founded the Pauline Church in spite of the true Apostles’ opposition. It was he who formulated its doctrines…The Christianity which the nations claim to follow is the religion of Paul, who is admittedly the chief and almost the only theologian that the Church recognizes. Because of his betrayal of the Master’s teachings the vision of true Christianity has been so dimmed that men have been able to defend war and a host of other evils, such as flesh eating and slavery, on the authority of the Bible. Had the teachings of the Master come down to us in their true form such misinterpretation would have been unthinkable.” The great English philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, in his book Not Paul But Jesus writes: “It rests with every professor of the religion of Jesus to settle within himself to which of the two religions, that of Jesus or that of Paul, he will adhere.”
The great man Mahatma Gandhi, the preacher of non-violence who, by peaceful means, secured independence from England for India, in an essay entitled Discussion on Fellowship, says:
“I draw a great distinction between the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus and the Letters of Paul. Paul’s Letters are a graft on Christ’s teachings, Paul’s own gloss apart from Christ’s own experience.”
Geza Vermes, a Jewish scholar and the director of the Oxford Forum for Qumran Research, writes:
“little by little, the Christ of Pauline theology and his Gentile church took over from the holy man of Galilee” [Jesus and the World of Judaism, pp. 56-57].
“Is it an exaggeration to suggest that oceans separate Paul’s Christian gospel from the religion of Jesus” [Religion of Jesus, p. 12].
A great scholar William Wrede, in his book Paul writes:
“The obvious contradictions in the three accounts given by Paul in regard to his conversion are enough to arouse distrust…The moral majesty of Jesus, his purity and piety, his ministry among his people, his manner as a prophet, the whole concrete ethical-religious content of his earthly life, signifies for Paul’s Christology nothing whatever…The name ‘disciple of Jesus’ has little applicability to Paul…Jesus or Paul: this alternative characterizes, at least in part, the religious and theological warfare of the present day.” Gene Savoy, in his The Essaei Document says: “The theology that Paul created is not the religion of the Essaei…Rome assumed control over it when the Roman emperor embraced Pauline Christianity…Palestinian Christianity [Essene/Nazorean/Ebionite movement] was displaced by Roman Christianity. The teachings of Jesus the Messiah were overshadowed by the teachings of Paul.”
I have deliberately devoted this article to quotations of the great scholars and theologians, so that you may realise just how widespread is the opinion of the biblical experts and historians that Paul was in reality the founder of the present day Christianity and that his gospel is in fact the perverted form of Jesus’s teachings. Paul taught and believed, sanctioned and tolerated things that Jessu and the Twelve absolutely abhorred. Paul was not and could not have been the true Apostle since he was neither an eyewitness of Jesus nor did he witness his miracles or heard his teachings. In order for someone to be an Apostle and therefore a member of the Twelve, he had to be both eyewitness of Jesus’s miracles and the hearer of his teachings.
True apostle had to be a close and intimate follower of Jesus who walked and talked with him and who also ate and drank with him. Paul simply does not qualify for the job. He never even met Jesus and therefore he did not even know what he looked like. Furthermore, Paul never witnessed the works of Jesus, and most importantly, he never followed Jesus nor did he ever hear his teachings and beliefs. Paul always appealed to the vision he had. But this vision proved nothing. He could not produce anyone who could testify that Jesus in fact commissioned him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles nor could he ever prove that Jesus actually told him to preach the version of the gospel that he actually preached. Anyone who accepted Paul had to do so on the testimony of his own words. The Twelve however, could produce many witnesses who could testify that they knew Jesus personally and that they followed him during his entire ministry.
A vision is simply not enough to convince even oneself - let alone others. It is no wander that Paul on occasions doubted whether his gospel was the true message or whether he actually was wasting his time. Mohamed established Islam on the basis of his visions. Ellen G. White reformed the Adventist Movement in accordance with her visions. Joseph Smith founded the Mormon Church on the basis of his vision. Host of others claimed and still claim to have had visions of Jesus. Therefore, a mere vision is no credential sufficient to prove one’s apostleship. Paul actually used the title Apostle very loosely and widely. He simply did not think much of the Twelve nor did he believe that there should and must be only TWELVE APOSTLES. The gospels clearly show that only the twelve disciples were given the title APOSTLES and that only they had special privileges with Jesus. In John’s Gospel the title Apostle never occurs but whenever a member of the Twelve is mentioned he is explicitly referred to as a DISCIPLE of Jesus. Thus it follows that an Apostle had to be a DISCIPLE or a STUDENT of the Master Jesus.
He had to be personally trained and appointed by Jesus. Paul however, identifies himself and even others as APOSTLES. In Romans 16:7 Paul says that Andronicus and Junia - his two relatives - were outstanding among the APOSTLES. In 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 Paul says that Jesus after his resurrection first appeared to Peter, then to the Twelve, and then to 500 brothers, then to James, his brother, and then to ALL APOSTLES. Who are these ALL APOSTLES to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection? Apart from the Twelve - there were none. Jesus promised the throne in his kingdom only to the Twelve. Only the names of the Twelve are inscribed on the foundations of the New Jerusalem. The name of Paul is simply not there nor did Jesus ever promise Paul to sit on the throne - judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
In his latter years Paul was rejected as an Apostle even by his original converts and followers. Even his closest friends deserted him. During his trial in Rome, the Apostles did not send any representatives nor any letters of exoneration. In fact, Paul writes to Timothy that during his first hearing no one supported him but all deserted him. Please note 2 Timothy 4:16:
“The first time I had to present my defence, no one stood by me; everyone deserted me.”
After Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, all Paul’s followers in Asia defected and abandoned Paul. I 2 Timothy 1:15-18 Paul writes to Timothy:
“You know that everyone in the province of Asia turned away from me, including Phygelus and Ermogenes. May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he was often a comfort to me…when he came to Rome, he diligently searched for me and found me. May the Lord grant to him to find mercy.”
The words “turned away” come from the Greek word “apostrepho” which is thus defined in The New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, on p. 68:
“to turn away from allegiance; to defect.”
All the believers in Asia deserted Paul and defected. This fact is clearly written in your own Bible by the very hand of Paul or his close associate. It is apparent from the book of Galatians that many deserted Paul’s gospel and turned to what he called “another Gospel.” The proponents of this other gospel, that is, the true and original gospel were in fact the Ebionites who were sent by James the Just. Paul strongly urged his converts in Galatia to remain loyal to his own gospel and pronounced a curse on anyone who would dare preach a gospel other than he preached. Christians generally assume that the believers in Galatia simply accepted Paul’s argument and rejected the other gospel brought by emissaries from James. Most scholars however argue that this was not the case and that Paul in fact lost the argument. The rift between Paul and Jerusalem Apostles and elders broadened significantly towards the end of Paul’s mission. Reports reached Jerusalem that Paul spoke everywhere against the Law and taught Jews everywhere not to observe the Law. James was alarmed at these reports as is clearly evident from Acts 21.
Paul was already afraid that his visit to Jerusalem and even his collected gift for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem would be rejected by the James and the elders. He urged his followers to earnestly pray for his safety in Jerusalem and that the gift collected among the Gentiles would be accepted by the Twelve [Romans 15:30]. Previous gifts were always welcomed but after a serious rift between Paul and the Twelve, he feared that they would reject his gift as an act of brotherly fellowship. As it turned out, his gift was rejected by the Ebionites in Jerusalem and Paul was arrested while falsely trying to convince the Jews that he himself lives in accordance with the Jewish customs. In 2 Corinthians we already see a serious rift emerging between Paul and the Jerusalem “supper apostles” as he often called them. In 11:22 Paul identifies his opponents as “Christians” of the Hebrew stock. This immediately points out that his opponents were in fact emissaries from James. His opponents were recognised as followers of Jesus 10:7]. They appealed to the authority of the Jerusalem Apostles whom Paul styled “supper apostles” [11:5; 12:11] but at the same time he brands them as “false apostles” and “servants of Satan” [11:13-15]. In 11:22-23 Paul acknowledges these “supper apostles” as “ministers of Christ” but claimed that his authority was superior to theirs. In 12:11 Paul points out that in no way is he inferior to these “supper apostles.” Paul acknowledges that these “supper apostles” in fact performed miracles but he credits their miracles to the power of Satan [11:13-15].
Paul clearly identified these apostles as “supper” and elsewhere as “pillars” and continually argues that he is not inferior to them - proving that they indeed exercised great authority among the believers in Jerusalem. Paul did not deny their power and miracles but he however ascribed it to Satan. Many biblical scholars recognise that in these chapters [Romans 10-13] we have a strong indication of the great rift between Paul and the Jerusalem Apostles. In The Jerome Biblical Commentary in reference to these chapters we find the following admission by the very Catholic commentators:
”supper apostles: This can refer to true Apostles such as Peter and James…According to some commentators the reference is to the true Apostles because of vv. 22-23 and 12:11.”
Great Christian scholar and professor James Dunn, in his book Unity and Diversity in the New Testament, on pp. 255-256, candidly admits:
“Here then is evidence of a deepening rift between Paul and Jerusalem church - with each disputing the other’s authority, and each attributing the other’s gospel to Satan…2 Cor. 10-13 remains a strong testimony to a depth of division between Paul and Jerusalem which helps considerably towards explaining later Jewish Christianity’s loathing for Paul the apostate.”
After Paul’s arrest, many of his followers simply deserted him and finally realised that James’ emissaries were right all along in claiming that he was not the true and legitimate Apostle. A century later, Church Father Irenaeus placed a great confidence in Paul’s epistles which were collected first of all other New Testament writings. He and some other Church Fathers sought to reclaim Paul as the legitimate Apostle. By the 3rd century Paul emerges as the “super” Apostle and the term “the Apostle” was reserved especially for him. When the Church fathers wrote they did not need to use Paul’s name. All they needed to do is use the term “the Apostle” and all knew that they spoke of Paul. The Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, on p. 702, candidly admits this fact:
“The Church fathers of the second century, led by Irenaeus of Lyons, sought to reclaim Paul as the apostle of orthodoxy, reading the authentic Pauline letters through the lenses of the Pastoral Epistles and the Book of Acts. Paul was claimed along with Peter as a co-founder of the orthodox church in Rome, and by the third century the expression “the apostle” refers to Paul alone. A central place for Paul is visible from Origen through John Chrysostom; his thought was absolutely formative.”
The same article goes on to say that although all major streams of Christianity accepted Paul as “the Apostle” and “hero” of orthodox Christianity, the Ebionites rejected Paul as an apostate and would not recognise the authority of his epistles:
“The Ebionites, on the other hand, expressed contempt for Paul and rejected his letters as the source of antinomian heresy. Similarly, the Pseudo-Clementine writings [containing some original Ebionite material] denigrade Paul in favor of Peter. Of the major streams of early Christianity, therefore, only the radical Jewish Christians repudiated Paul.”
The Church Fathers rejected the beliefs and views of the Ebionites. They rejected them as heretics and instead concentrated on the beliefs and teachings of Paul. In due time his doctrines were implemented through various synods and councils of the Catholic Christianity. Early in the 4th century, Constantine embraced Catholic Christianity. By this time the Church faced opposition on two major fronts. The Asian community continued to observe “Easter” on the 14th of Nisan and were known as Quartodecimans and the dispute itself is known as Qaurtodeciman Controversy. Early in the 4th century Dr. Arius, a Catholic priest began to teach that Jesus was not divine but rather a creature of God. Those who accepted his views were known as Arians and the dispute itself is known as Arian Controversy. In 325 c.e., Constantine convened a council in Nicaea, where both teachings were condemned. The Nicene Creed was formed which unequivocally recognises the deity of Jesus and his co-equality with the Father. At the same time Quartodeciman practice was condemned and it was decreed that thenceforth Easter must be observed on the first Sunday after the Full Moon and the calendar was adjusted so that Easter Sunday would never coincide with the Jewish Passover, that is, the 14th of Nisan.
Catholic Christianity, as we have seen, did not originate with Jesus and the Twelve nor was it affiliated with the Essene/Nazorean/Ebionite movement. All Protestant denominations and sects likewise did not originate with Jesus but are rather offshoots of Catholic Christianity. No Protestant denomination in existence today is descended from the Ebionites. They all have their origin with the Catholic Christianity and all their major doctrines conform to the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Strictly speaking, all Protestants are in fact Roman Catholics - but PROTESTING Catholics - as their name implies. The true religion was established in the beginning and was finally restored by Jesus. Those who believe and practice what the original believers taught and practiced are part of that true religion. But those who reject the Ebionites and their doctrines which conformed to the teaching of Jesus and the Twelve are doing only that what their Catholic predecessors have already done - proving that they are in reality still a very part of Catholic Christianity. For more information on Paul please read my article Was Paul The True Apostle?